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7 Ways to Decorate Naturally for Fall

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Use leaves, fruits, and other natural items to make décor that’ll last all season.


Steer clear of the Halloween aisles, with their light-up inflatable yard ornaments and plastic wall hangings. Nature — supplemented by some stuff around your house — has all you need to get in the mood for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and autumn in general. By staying general with your seasonal décor, you can keep up the same decorations from now until Thanksgiving is over.

Take a look at these ideas that I gathered from some of my favorite home magazines, design bloggers, and Pinterest boards, then head outside to “shop” for your seasonal makeover.

  1. Get creative with colorful leaves. The orange, yellow, red, and brown leaves falling outside offer a colorful way to bring the season inside (or at least to your front door). Use bunches of fall leaves to make a wreath, or make stunning art by framing individual leaves and hanging on the wall.
  2. Go overboard with pumpkins. From October through the end of November, pumpkins are everywhere, from your latte to the facials offered at your salon. And they are a particularly easy way to dress up your front steps or entryway: just arrange a few of various colors (the white or blue pumpkins are particularly stunning) and shapes next to your door, and you’re done! Unembellished pumpkins work for both Halloween and Thanksgiving, and can be easily composted.
  3. Concoct a stunning centerpiece. Use icons from the season, such as colored leaves, pine cones, and mini pumpkins to make an arrangement under a bell jar for your table. Don’t have a bell jar? Look for a large Mason jar or invert a glass bowl or vase for your arrangement.
  4. Make use of yard waste. We have a sweet gum tree that drops prickly little seed pods that turn the steps leading down to the street rather treacherous. But one woman’s death trap is another woman’s crafting treasure. Imagine my surprise when I came across a whole Pinterest board filled with ways to use sweet gum seed pods in decorating crafts! Now that I see them differently, I’ll send my kids out to gather them up to fill a vase or to string into a garland. Some of the other stuff that ends up in yard waste bags might be better suited to indoor or outdoor decorating: osage oranges, for instance, look amazing piled into an oversized bowl or interspersed on a bookshelf.
  5. Build a good old-fashioned scarecrow. One year my neighborhood had a scarecrow contest. We were all invited to create a scarecrow and put it out in our front yard, and the cutest one won a cash prize! It was fun to plan out a theme and then rummage around the house looking for materials with which to build it. A scarecrow is the ultimate in repurposing — in times past, a farmer’s cast-off clothing served as the scarecrow’s outfit, and spent cornstalks and husks were the stuffing. Get the family involved in designing and building the scarecrow, and issue a challenge that everything must be upcycled from around the house.
  6. Commandeer some cornstalks. Ask a local farm if you can take an armload of unused cornstalks off their hands. They make great traditional, large-scale arrangements. You can prop them on either side of your door, tie them to a fencepost, or even arrange them in a large vase.
  7. Accent with apples. Whether red or green or in between, apples are very much an icon for autumn, and can be used in simple, but stunning, arrangements… as long as you don’t mind when one goes missing as hunger strikes! I like a row of green apples on a mantel, or a bowl of mixed apples on the entry table. Or, for a dinner party, place an apple at each place setting, with a card bearing the guest’s name tied to the stem.

How do you use natural materials to create your fall decorations? Share your favorite decorating ideas in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • erica m. 2 years ago
    Use the freezer to save up bones from meals for spooky decorations, like a fake graveyard in the front yard. By the next morning, most of the bones will likely disappear with local wildlife, so it all goes back to nature.
  • lisa p. 2 years ago
    I have a Pyracantha tree/shrub which is fruiting in lovely small red berries right now. Some may know it as a Fire thorn tree. it's in the rose family and you can actually make jelly out of the little red berries if you use a base of apple juice as sweetener. Most folks will use a mix of apple and cranberry or pomegranite juice to make the color red and then they add red chili flakes or other red hot peppers to make Pepper Jam. I do that but I also trim branches and attach them to a reusable wreath frame. The tree fruits all year long in LA and so it often has white flowers in some spots too (which become the berries). The greens are bright green and it looks so festive! You can even just tie the branches into a swag to put over your door. Go here to read more about this very easy to grow ornamental that feeds birds all year round. Our mockingbirds like to nest in the tree and many species of birds eat the berries. Bees love the small clusters of fragrant flowers. it is also a wonderful source for natural pectin. It's tree that keeps on giving! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyracantha
  • sheila b. 2 years ago
    I grew my own pumpkins
  • tommy b. 2 years ago
    Today
  • Dona E. 2 years ago
    I grew my own pumpkins and I still will have Zinnia for a Thanksgiving bouquet! I love gardening and the earth!!
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